Today I'm participating in a meme hosted by Book Journey. Here's a look at what I've been reading lately and what's coming up for me.
Finished Last Week:
I was disappointed in both I'll Give You the Sun and I Was Here. I'll Give You the Sun felt very romanticized, sentimental, and melodramatic. The language was flowery and overly poetic, which felt out of place for teenage narrators. Although it explores a lot of significant issues, including loss, grief, anger, betrayal, hurt, love, disappointment, and forgiveness, I thought the book's handling of these oscillated between over the top and simplistic and even trivial. I'll Give You the Sun is filled with intense melodramatic moments that are then brushed aside or wrapped up without much fuss. The plot itself was pretty unbelievable at parts, and the way that different threads intersected with one another and everything just sort of came together perfectly at the end didn't feel very true to life.
I Was Here is such a missed opportunity, and I would be very hesitant to recommend this to a young adult reader, particularly one who is struggling with any mental health issues or suicidal thoughts. In her author's note, Gayle Forman says she wrote this book after learning of a bright young college woman who suffered from depression and ultimately committed suicide. Forman says that she wanted to explore why people like this woman would feel like suicide is their only option, as well as how their deaths affect those they leave behind. Knowing that this is Forman's inspiration, I Was Here feels completely out of place. The word "depression" isn't even used until the last few pages of the novel, and Forman doesn't explore mental illness at all. Beyond that, I thought that the characters were archetypical and one dimensional, the plot and character development illogical, and the writing pretty simplistic. The romantic storyline was ridiculous and fairly inappropriate, and I didn't like how much dangerous behavior the main character engaged in without the book really cautioning against this kind of behavior, which feels irresponsible considering the book's audience.
I'm going to finish The Girl on the Train today, and I'm hesitant to say how I feel about it so far since so much hangs on how everything comes together in the end. It's been an engaging and thrilling read, and I think I'm less irked by the main character than other people. Yes she may seem "weak" and reactive, but I think it's interesting to follow a character who is clearly dealing with her depression by self-medicating and has subsequently become an alcoholic. I don't think these things make her a weak character, as we tend to write off weakness as a personal failing. She is struggling with very real mental health issues, and her depression and addiction make it difficult for her to get help and sometimes they even lead her to do really stupid things. She feels like a very human character, a woman who is going through a rough time in her life and who, like all of us, can be incredibly frustrating at times (put down the gin and tonic!).
I have so many books on my to-read list, and it's hard to decide what to read next! I packed all of these for a road trip that Jordan and I went on this past weekend. I'm leaning toward starting Gretel and the Dark or The Night Circus next. Anyone want to help me decide?
What have you been reading lately?